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Top 8 Limoncello Substitutes & Homemade Recipe

Limoncello is best used for desserts, sweets, and baked goods But if your limoncello has run out just when you need it most or you want another alternative, I will help you choose the best substitute to keep the drink, dessert, or meal! Now you can either jump to the recipe or otherwise find a good limoncello substitute from our Quick Summary below.


homemade limoncello substitute
Homemade Limoncello Recipe
Prep: 30 mins Total: 70 days 30 mins Yields: 1 bottle

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Quick Summary

  • Ratio 2: 1 means add 2 tsp of limoncello for every 1 tsp of substitute.
  • Jump to a section by clicking the link next to the arrow ➡️.

  Dressings & Marinades RATIO
(Limoncello : Substitute)
PROS CONS
1 ➡️ LEMON JUICE (Ratio 2:1) Simple to find Needs water + sugar
2 ➡️ LEMON ESSENCE (Ratio 2:1) Easy & cheap to find
Nice colorant
No precise ratio
No flavor & needs sugar
3 ➡️ LEMON ZEST (Ratio 1:1) Easy to find
Use in parfaits
No precise ratio
Strong & needs sugar
4 ➡️ LIME JUICE / ZEST (Ratio 1:1) Easy to find Strong & needs sugar
Risky with dairy
5 ➡️ ORANGE JUICE / ZEST (Ratio 1:1) Easy to find No lemon flavor
Sweet
  Desserts & Drinks RATIO
(Limoncello:Substitute)
PROS CONS
6 ➡️ LEMON OIL (Ratio ⅛:1) Use in desserts
Use in sorbets
Very Strong
Needs sugar + vodka for drinks
7 ➡️ DRIED LEMON PEEL (Ratio 1:1) Easy to prepare
Use in cakes & dressings
Difficult to find
Needs sugar + vodka for drinks
8 ➡️ LEMON EXTRACT (Ratio 1:1) Use in everything
Similar taste & texture
Difficult to find
Needs sugar + vodka for drinks

 

What is Limoncello?

Limoncello, or Limoncino, is a typical liqueur of the Campania region in Italy.

It’s a sweet liqueur with a characteristic yellow color with 20% to 32% alcohol obtained from citrus peels which are left in pure alcohol and mixed with sugar and water-made syrup. In particular, the citrus peels most often come from lemons found on the nearby Amalfi Coast like the Sfusato Amalfitano and Ovale di Sorrento.

Homemade limoncello is simple to make once you have the right ingredients. In particular, always make sure to choose organic and untreated lemons preferably coming from Amalfi cost so that they are rich in essential oils that give the liqueur a unique scent and taste.

Italians love to take limoncello as a digestive after consuming a meal. But it’s also a favorite around the world for tiramisu, cheesecake, pound cake, fruit salad, ice cream, cocktails, and also savory dishes such as risotto lobster. However, if your limoncello runs out, you’ll need to find a way to save the day and the meal! That is why I have compiled a list of suitable substitutes for you.

Once prepared, the Limoncello can be finally tasted only after leaving it in the bottle for at least 1 month!

Top Limoncello Non-Alcoholic Substitutes

1. LEMON JUICE


Recommended ratio:  2:1

Freshly squeezed lemon juice is the most genuine lemon flavor available. In fact, lemon is one of the most used ingredients in the world and gives meals so much depth.

Replace 2 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Lemon Juice + 1 tbsp water (or ice in cocktails) + 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Notes:

  1. Can be used safely to substitute for dressings, marinades, and pickles but you may find it harder to use for parfaits and baked goods.
  2. Adding water to make up for the rest of the liquid used for Limoncello may be challenging in baked goods, parfaits, and cheesecakes that require setting.
  3. Adding a more acidic liquid might interfere with the milk in parfaits and recipes using milk. However, by diluting the lemon juice there’s almost no risk of failing. If you want to make sure the milk won’t curdle use the milk directly from the refrigerator and add 1/2 tsp baking soda to each cup of milk.
  4. Use packaged lemon juice to substitute for fresh lemon juice. The taste of packaged lemon juice may have a negative effect on the taste of the recipe. After all, nothing beats squeezing some lemons to get the real taste.
  5. Some recipes may require more sugar. You must taste while cooking. This is the same advice I give when cooking Chinese Lemon Chicken using fresh lemon juice as an ingredient.

2. LEMON ESSENCE


Recommended ratio:  2:1

Lemon essence and lemon extract are NOT the same. The lemon essence is produced using artificial colors, flavors, and chemicals and so the taste has nothing to do with the actual fruit.

Replace 2 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Lemon essence + 1/4 teaspoon sugar

  1. Each brand of essence will have a distinct flavor. Since lemon essence is an artificial flavoring some will taste more like genuine lemons and will be concentrated. In contrast, others will have a bland, diluted flavor.
  2. Start by replacing equal amounts of lemon essence then add more as needed.

3. LEMON ZEST


Recommended ratio:  1:1

Lemon zest is strong but not acidic and thus makes a great substitute for Limoncello. Lemon zest is obtained by grating finely the peel of the lemon using the sharper side of a grater.

Replace 1 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Lemon Zest + 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Notes

  1. Can be safely used to substitute for sauces but is also great to use for parfaits and baked goods.
  2. Can be safely used in parfaits and recipes using milk. Due to the absence of acidity, it will not cause the dairy to clot
  3. Some recipes may require more sugar. Others might not even need any sugar. Adjust as required.
  4. Avoid grating the marrowThe white part under the skin is very bitter and will retain that flavor during the cooking process.
  5. Doesn’t affect the texture of desserts by adding more zest. Zest is not liquidy and therefore does not change the texture of recipes, especially desserts.

4. LIME JUICE OR ZEST


Recommended ratio:  1:1

Lime juice looks and tastes very similar to lemon juice. Lemons and limes have similar flavors, with the main difference being that lemons are acidic and limes are more bitter.

Replace 1 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Lime Juice / Zest + 1/4 tsp sugar

Notes:

  1. Can be safely used for savory recipes, marinades, and sauces. It is also great to use for parfaits and baked goods.
  2. Can be used the same way in place of limoncello. Since their acidic pH levels are nearly identical, lime juice – for every teaspoon of limoncello, uses 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
  3. Can interfere with the milk in parfaits and recipes using milk. Since lime juice is slightly more acidic there’s the risk the texture will be affected or milk might curdle. Try using the milk directly from the refrigerator and add 1/2 tsp baking soda to each cup of milk to avoid dairy clotting.
  4. Some recipes may require more sugar. Others might not even need any sugar. Adjust as required.
  5. Avoid grating the marrowThe white part under the skin is very bitter and will retain that flavor during the cooking process.
  6. Doesn’t change the texture when using the lime zest. Desserts are not affected by adding more zest.

5. ORANGE JUICE AND ZEST


Recommended ratio:  1:1

If lemon juice isn’t your thing, orange juice is a great alternative. It is not acidic or acidic like lemon extract, and it is also much sweeter. There are all citrus flavors, but there is no acidic acidity.

Replace 1 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Orange Juice / Zest + 1/4 tsp sugar or orange zest

Notes:

  1. Can be safely used for all recipes.
  2. Oranges are so sweet. You might want to use less sugar or replace the sugar with orange zest.
  3. Does not interfere with the milk in parfaits and recipes using milk.
  4. Doesn’t change the texture of recipes.

6. LEMON OIL


Recommended ratio:  ⅛:1

SOURCE

Lemon oil is a good substitute for lemon extract. Since lemon oil is a component of limoncello, it makes it a great alternative that can be used in any recipe that calls for lemon extract. Makes the best substitute for desserts!

Replace 1 tbsp of Limoncello by: ⅛ tsp Lemon Oil + 1/4 teaspoon sugar + (1 shot vodka only for alcoholic drinks)

Notes:

  1. Higher concentration of lemon (taste) than lemoncello. Use it in smaller quantities. 
  2. Best for cakes, sorbets, and other desserts. These are the best meals to use lemon oil in.

7. DRIED LEMON PEEL


Recommended ratio:  1:1

Dried lemon peel, can be used as an alternative instead of lemoncello.

Replace 1 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Dried Lemon Peel + 1/4 teaspoon sugar + (1 shot vodka only for alcoholic drinks)

Notes:

  1. Can be used in any recipe. Lemon peel is a chopped, dried form that can be used in any recipe.
  2. Use this lemon extract substitute in cakes, desserts, and salad dressings. Accordingly, choose organic dried lemon peel. 

8. LEMON EXTRACT


Recommended ratio:  1:1

SOURCE

Lemon extract is a lemon-flavored liquid made from lemons. Lemon extract is made by marinating lemon peels in a clear, flavorless spirit, usually vodka. The essential oils contained within the peels are released, allowing them to infuse into the oil or alcohol. The alcohol is then distilled, resulting in a pale yellow or clear liquid with a concentration of 77%.

Replace 1 tbsp of Limoncello by: 1 tbsp Lemon Extract + 1/4 teaspoon sugar + (1 shot vodka only for alcoholic drinks)

Notes:

  1. Without the sour, sour taste of fresh lemon juice, this process produces a delicious lemon taste and texture.
  2. Lemon extract is a versatile ingredient that can be used in most recipes.
  3. Can be used in a variety of drinks, and sweet and savory recipes. 
  4. Can be used in parfaits, pickles, dressings, parfaits, and marinades, sweets, and baked goods .st to name a few, and can all be used this way.

Conclusion

Any of the suggestions above will work well if you follow our tips. However, if I had to choose the best substitute for Dressings, Marinades & Pickles I would opt for Lemon Juice while as the best substitute for drinks & desserts I choose lemon extract. If you want to add alcohol to the drink then use lemon oil + a shot of vodka.

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homemade limoncello substitute

Homemade Limoncello Substitute Recipe

Caroline Sciberras
The preparation of limoncello is simple but you have to practice it meticulously and, if well observed, in little more than a couple of months this very fragrant yellow liqueur with a strong aroma can be tasted, most of the time as a digestive, but also on desserts or in fruit salads.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 70 days
Course Drinks
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 bottle

Ingredients
  

  • Large untreated organic lemons 5
  • Pure alcohol at 95° 500 ml
  • Sugar 600g
  • Water 750ml

Instructions
 

  • To make limoncello, wash the lemons under running water, rub the peel with a new sponge to remove any impurities, then dry the lemons with a cloth. Peel the lemons with a potato peeler, you will have to take only the yellow rind and not the white part which would be bitter.
  • Take a glass container with an airtight seal, pour the alcohol inside and lemon peel , close the jar and let the peels soak in alcohol for 30 days in a dark place away from heat sources.
  • After 30 days, recover the peels and prepare the syrup: pour the water into a saucepan and sugar , bring the syrup to the boil.
  • Once it reaches the boil, turn off the heat, pour the syrup into a jug and let it cool completely. Now add the syrup to the container with the lemon zests. Shake the jar to mix the syrup, then let it sit again for 40 days, always in the dark away from heat sources.
  • After the standing time, take the jar with the liqueur again, shake it and then filter it through a strainer and collect the liqueur inside a bottle. Your homemade limoncello is ready to be tasted!

Notes

Limoncello can be kept for a long time in a cool, dry place, in the fridge, or even in the freezer, the presence of alcohol and sugar will prevent it from freezing. In case you notice any type of alteration of the product, its consumption is not recommended.
Keyword digestive, limoncello, limoncino

2 thoughts on “Top 8 Limoncello Substitutes & Homemade Recipe”

  1. Thank you for the detailed guide! I wanted to find an analcolic alternative for limoncello to use in my favorite tiramisu recipe. I used lemon extract and turned out great! No one noticed the difference.

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